Commuting From the Soekarno Hatta Airport, the Cheapest Way

Got your battery drained and unfortunately left your charger in your apartment upon arriving at the airport? Did you have a traumatic experience with a taxi at the airport? Want to take a Grab bike but cannot because it is raining outside? Don’t fret. If you are not in a hurry, not bringing a lot of luggage and are in for a new discovery in commuting from the Jakarta Soekarno Hatta Airport to your place, then this one’s for you.

Taxis parked at the entrance of the airport can be a bitch, especially in your most inconvenient time. They can extort you fees that can make you think of strangling the driver right there and scream the word, ‘Justice’ on his face. It was on June last year when this happened to me. It was one of my first plane rides alone in going back to Jakarta. I arrived at the airport around 2:30AM after a 13-hour layover in Kuala Lumpur, which I planned and enjoy all the way. Unfortunately, the trip going back to my apartment had not been enjoyable. My phone battery took too long to charge and this stupid men from the airport (who, maybe, were up for a small commission from the taxi I would be taking) plainly said, Grab cars are a bit far from the airport entrance and I better take one of those taxis outside.

Considering the inconvenient, probably ‘dangerous’ time of my arrival, I hesitatingly followed their idea and took a taxi that charged me a hefty sum of 300K IDR (1000Php). The bapak, unfortunately, after learning my uneasy Bahasa, took further advantage of me and let me pay the toll when we passed by the tollgate. And, when I got off his taxi, he was even asking for a freakin’ 100K IDR (300Php) as it was ‘a special trip.’ The last one made me so angry, I glared at him for a few seconds before pulling my baggage outside his car, not even saying thank you for the ride.

From then on, I promised to myself never to be fooled again by bad drivers who would just extort the untrained expat or visitor up to their last cent. Life goes on and Christmas came in, I went home to my country. Thanks to my employer’s free transport service, I was ushered to the airport without worry and hassle. However, I was left on my own when I got back to Jakarta on December 31, a holiday and there were no available school drivers who could meet me from the airport.

 

And, the same problem occurred. My battery got drained again and it took a long time to charge. I sat in one of the benches inside the airport, a part of me not wanting to go out, like I just wanna get glued there forever. Then, more people arrived from their respective trips and time ticked on slowly until I freaked out upon realizing it was already 5pm, and I was waiting there for almost an hour. And so, I braved through the rumblings in my head and finally head out, even without a phone to hail a Grab car going home.

 

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Fancy balloons at the airport to welcome passengers

In just a few seconds, hands, more hands in the air beckoning passengers to pick their taxi. And then I saw those blue, big commuter buses, Jabodetabek and DAMRI buses that say they can take people from the bandara to the city. I asked a nearby bapak guards and they told me those buses were found in Terminal F. I kept moving towards the left and saw more shops on the left side. Then, the covered walk ended and I crossed a street again, and saw the flyover at the top. I asked a road cleaner, who proved to be not helpful as he sounded like one of those men at the airport who would be happy to have some commission from the taxi driver if they can get a passenger for them.

And so, I went on and come across a park. Then, finally, I saw the terminal with other passengers waiting there. I was relieved. More questions with my labored Bahasa. What’s certain is, they told me to wait for the blue bus that can take passengers to Taman Anggrek. More relief. I know the mall, have been there a couple of times. Home felt nearer then. I waited for another 20 minutes then I got impatient again and asked another staff what buses can take me to Pluit or somewhere nearer the place. He told me, I can take the bus passing by Gambir. Sounds like a good idea, too. From Monas, I can take a bus going home.

Without further questions, I bought a ticket worth 40K IDR (120Php), sat in one of their benches again and waited. Ten minutes came. No bus yet. Then, this blue bus passed by with its dispatcher alerting passengers it will take them to Taman Anggrek.

 

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A view of the terminal 

I ignored my first ticket and got on the bus. It was a comfortable bus with an efficient air conditioner. There was also a separate rack for the passengers’ luggage. The trip went on smoothly. When it passed by Season’s City, I heard one passenger asking the driver if she could get off there. They let her off the bus, and I also followed as Season’s City is nearer my apartment. I took one of those red BO1 angkuts going to Pluit that will ask 4K IDR from its passengers. Everything felt normal when I get inside the angkut. More familiar streets, the familiar chatter of passengers.

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Cheap bus tickets from the airport 

So, how much did I pay in that commute? I paid 30K IDR to the Jabodetabek bus and 4K IDR to the angkut going back to my apartment! So much money saved compared to taking a taxi that may charge as high as 300K IDR or from a Grab car. I arrived home feeling exhausted but happy with my new discovery.

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